Chapter 30: Long, Long Night
Fog fills the night, few leaves remain on the trees, lotus pond filled with dried leaves, the grass by the path all brown. In the past the flowers were red, and the trees green, the smell of plum filled the pavilion, but none still remain. At the end of the little bridge is a little house, the Cold Fragrance Hut*.
*Note: I did not use this translation in previous references to this place, and instead just said something like ‘house’ or ‘room’ or some other generic term. This is the house Li Xun Huan and Lin Xian Er lived in(remember when Li Xun Huan visited Lin Xian Er there?). But I will use this term from now on. As you can probably see by now, editing and thinking-up-perfect-translations tend to take a back seat to speed. I don’t like it, but it’s necessary if I don’t want to drag out this translation process for years. If I still feel up to it, I’ll make a thorough revision after I finish the whole translation. But for right now, you’ll have to bear with me.
Here lived the top hero in the martial world, and the most beautiful woman in the world; back then, the plum flowers blossomed, its smell alluring.
But now, cobwebs filled the corners, dust gathered on the windows, nothing remained, even the old plum trees had dried up.
Deep in the darkness of the night, a shadow appeared.
His hair disorganized, his clothing messed up, look like a street bum, but his expression still graceful, his eyes bright as the stars.
He walked over the bridge, saw the old plum tree, and sighed. The plum trees used to be his friends, but has since withered as he had.
Then like a sparrow he shot up!
The window on the top floor of the little building is closed.
But there are many slashes on the window. From these slits one can see that lonely person, facing towards the candle, sewing.
Her face pale, even her beautiful eyes cannot retain its magnetism of the past.
She has no expression, looks very cold, as if she had forgotten all happiness, and all sadness.
She simply sits there, sewing, withering away.
Tears in clothing can be mended, but the tears in one’s heart cannot…
At the other side of the room is a boy around thirteen or fourteen.
He looks very smart, a pair of eyes that makes him look even smarter, but his face is pale, so pale one almost forget that he’s a kid.
He’s practicing writing.
Although he’s young, he has already learned to withstand loneliness.
That withered man stood outside, watching them.
Tears flowed down his eyes.
After who know how long, that child stopped writing, raised his head, and began to stare at the candle flame.
That housewife also stopped sewing, looking at her son, her face filled with unlimited tenderness, and softly asked, “Xiao Yun, what are you thinking about?”
The kid bit his lips, said, “I was just thinking about when dad is coming back.”
The housewife’s hand shook, the needle stabbed her finger. But she seemingly felt no pain, for all the pain resides in her heart. That kid said, “Mom. Why did dad suddenly leave? It’s been two years, and still no word of him.”
The housewife remained silent for a long time, and then softly sighed. “I didn’t even know why he left.”
That kid suddenly showed a strange expression of hatred, said, “But I know why he left.”
The housewife said softly, “You’re still a kid. What do you know?”
That kid said, “Of course I know. Dad left because he’s afraid that Li Xun Huan will come back for revenge. If he so much as hear Li Xun Huan’s name, his expression would change.”
The housewife wanted to say something, but only let out a sigh instead.
She realizes that this kid knows a lot of things, perhaps too much.
That kid continued, “But Li Xun Huan never came, why hasn’t he come to see mom?”
The housewife’s whole body shook. She said loudly, “Why would he come to see me?”
The kid smiled. “I know he and mom have always been great friends, right?”
The housewife’s face became pure white. She frowned. “The sun is about to rise. Shouldn’t you go to sleep now?”
The kid blinked his eyes, said, “I won’t sleep. I want to accompany mom, because for the past two years, mom had not slept well at all.”
The housewife closed her eyes, tears poured down.
That kid stood up and started to smile. “But I do need to go sleep now. Tomorrow is mom’s birthday, I need to get up early…”
He walked over to the housewife and gave her a kiss on the forehead, then said, “Mom should also go to sleep. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
He smiled as he walked out the door, but once outside, his smiled disappeared, replaced by a venomous expression. “Li Xun Huan, everyone else is afraid of you, but I’m not. One of these days, you’re going to die in my hands.”
The housewife’s eyes followed the kid out the door, filled will sorrow, filled with tenderness. This really is a smart son.
She only has this one son.
This son is her life, even if he did something that made her sad or angry, she would still love him wholeheartedly.
The love of a mother to her kid is always limitless, always unconditional.
She sat down again, made the light even brighter.
Every night when it’s almost dawn, she would feel especially gloomy.
A sound of light coughing came from outside the window.
Her expression changed again.
Her whole person seemingly became a piece of wood, unable to move, simply looking out the window. Her eyes carried a hint of joy, but also a hint of sorrow…
After who know how long, she slowly got up, walked over to the window, and with a hand still shaking, opened the window slowly. She asked loudly, “Who’s there?”
Not even a hint of a shadow below.
The housewife looked around, then said, “I know you’re here. Since you’re here, why don’t come see me?”
No sound, no response.
That housewife took a deep breath, then said, “I don’t blame you for not wanting to see me. We really wronged you…”
Her voice became softer and softer, then basically stood there aimlessly for a long time, before closing the window.
The ground has been fully covered by darkness.
The moments before dawn is always the darkest.
But darkness always eventually passes, as a hint of light appeared from the east. A shadow appeared from the back of a tree.
He had been standing still for a long time, his hair, clothing, all seemingly soaked with tears.
His eyes never did leave the window. He looks so old, withered, fragile…
He is the same person as the one who appeared here last night, the same one who was perpetually drunk at Hunchback Sun’s shop!
He did not speak, but his heart kept reaching out.
Shi Yin, Shi Yin, you never did anything wrong, it’s me who wronged you…
Although I couldn’t see your face, but for the past two years, I was by your side the whole time, protecting you. Do you realize that?